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Foodies Who Take Statins (Zocor/Lipitor/etc)

Hello, chowhounds, I'm a journalist working on a newspaper article about cholesterol-challenged foodies who are able to remain foodies because they take statins (Zocor, etc.). The inspiration for the idea, by the way, is that I myself am a cholesterol-challenged foodie who is able to remain a foodie because I take Zocor. Have you been eating steak three times a week, guilt-free, ever since you started taking meds? Have those little pills given you license to eat things you'd shy away from if statins didn't exist? If you fit the bill yourself, or know someone who does, I would be grateful to hear your experiences and stories.

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  1. I'm on vytorin and my husband is zocor. We made some changes in the way we eat, but nothing huge. We are more careful about reading nutritional info. Definitely cut out anything with transfat and really limit saturated fats. I don't buy low fat dairy so, I limit how much I use. My DH has more problems with triglycerides so he takes fish oil and I've been on him to drink green tea. My big thing is trying to get him to eat less processed pre-prepared foods. If I do the shopping, I don't buy them, but if he does, he stocks up. It's still a steep learning curve. One great thing we did was go to a museum in Denver. They had a health exhibit and showed how bad for you fast food is. That really opened his eyes. Even my kids get into it now. Look at the ingredients, calorie count, sodium, sugar, fats, etc....but to answer your question, no we don't take it as a license to eat anything and everything. We still enjoy many types of food, but are more aware of what we are putting in our bodies.

    1. Wow. That's a frightening trend in American health care. Why is that people have lost any personal accountability for their own health and rely on medication to compensate for their lack of self-control? I see it all of the time- people think that if they're on a handful of pills they can do whatever unhealthy thing they want... yet if a drug has a side effect that they don't like, they're getting in line to sue the manufacturer.

      I think it's safe to say that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is healthier than a diet full of meat and processed food. Adding a statin to a diet of meat and processed foods may improve the cholesterol panel, but leaves the individual at a high risk of all sorts of other medical conditions.

      12 Replies
      1. re: chococat

        please be careful in broad brushed statements.

        shouldn't people with a medical issue be allowed to eat short ribs and katsu? Remember there is more to needing some of these pharmas than too many super-sized meals, for example, your DNA.

        Yes jfood agrees that American health is a major issue, but many have accountability in mind when they take the pills versus having a stroke, and leaving their families to an early grave.

        1. re: jfood

          Thanks, jfood. Unfortunately, my numbers are on the rise despite the fact that I exercise, eat relatively healthy and am considered thin. High cholesterol is hereditary in my family. My numbers are borderline and some sort of statin may be in my future. So, yeah, I wholeheartedly agree it's more than unfair to label people who take pills as "irresponsible" when we don't control our own DNA.

          1. re: kattyeyes

            I'm all for people indulging occasionally- but the OP was referring to people who have high cholesterol and choose to eat "steak three times a week, guilt-free, ever since you started taking meds?" and want to talk to people who think that "those little pills given you license to eat things you'd shy away from if statins didn't exist". I pass no judgement on people who do their best to control their cholesterol levels with lifestyle modification and take statins to help achieve their goal. But that doesn't appear to be the audience that the OP is targetting.

            1. re: chococat

              I totally agree with what you're saying. I don't think the OP is targeting people who take statins are taking some responsibility to control their diet and exercise. I think he's looking for folks who take statins so they don't have to control their diet and exercise. My MIL has been taking Lipitor for years due to her high cholesterol. Unfortunately, according to her doctors, her years of Lipitor caused her to have some liver issues and has to be tested on a monthly basis. When she went off of Lipitor, her cholesterol level rose up again. So she's very careful with her diet (but indulges once in a while) so that she doesn't have to take as large of a dosage.

              And I think it's definitely possible to be a foodie and not eat rib eyes and pork belly all the time. There are so many delicious things in the world that are healthy for you. It's about retraining taste buds so that you can find deliciousness in something like steamed kale.

            2. re: kattyeyes

              Thank you. I was going to say this, but then saw you said it better.

            3. re: jfood

              <<shouldn't people with a medical issue be allowed to eat short ribs and katsu?>>

              It's not not a question of "allowing" people to eat - it's about the wisdom of using the medication as an excuse to continue the behavior that contributed to them needing the medication in the first place.

              I'll give smokers advice on supplements that may ameliorate some of the damage, but I tell them over and over they're not an excuse to continue smoking. (And, of course, as CHers we should know that smoking kills taste buds...)

              1. re: Richard 16

                R16

                That's the point, not everyone has the food as the culprit. there is zippo evidence that DNA may lead to lung cancer, not the same with cholesterol. And if a medication increase the quality of life for the person, then jfood believes that is why these pharmas were invented.

                Maybe just a difference of view.

                1. re: jfood

                  From the American Cancer Society:

                  "Cancer is now clearly understood to be a disease of abnormal gene function. Genes are segments of DNA that contain instructions on how to make the proteins the body needs to function. They govern hereditary traits, such as hair color, eye color, and height, as well as susceptibility (likelihood of being affected) to certain diseases, such as cancer."

                  (http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/con...

                  )

                  Some of the cholesterol problems are heredity, but most are due to lifestyle. The combination obviously is the worst.

                  (Sorry if I'm somewhat pedantic, but I am a teacher at a college...)
                  As to why they were invented I may have a doctor's opinion as to what "quality of life" means. The primary hypothesis is that by lowering LDLs and HLDLs and raising HDLs both mortality and morbidity are lowered. I tend to think of morbidity as significant damage without death. Sure, it also includes less tangible pursuits - abilities, desire, wants, etc. - but none of them are possible with death (as far we know) and many are restricted or even even non-existent depending on the damage.

                  To that end the meds may work, and *if* someone can enjoy stuff (O.K., food - this is CH) in moderation that's great - but there may be an adverse effects. Add to that the adverse effects of the medications and there are significant reasons to reduce or even eliminate the harmful foods.

                  1. re: Richard 16

                    Gotta read the whloe article:

                    5-10% of all cancers are hereditary based:

                    "Cancer is such a common disease, especially in older adults, that many families have at least a few members who have had cancer. Only about 5% to 10% of all cancers are the inherited type. The cancer actually is not inherited, but the abnormal gene that can cause the cancer is what is inherited. This document will focus on those cancers that tend to occur in families.

                    Most of the time, different types of cancer occur apparently by chance or are linked with common family habits such as cigarette smoking, which can damage the genes in the lungs, throat, mouth, and several other organs. However, studies have shown that certain cancers can occur to excess in some families. For example, a woman whose mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree relatives) has had breast cancer is about twice as likely to develop breast cancer as a woman whose close female relatives have not had breast cancer. "

                    gotta love the term "common family habits". what is second hand smoke like wearing one brown and one black sock? or ketchup on a hot dog?
                    And with respect to LDL see http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec12/ch157...

                    "Some people are more sensitive to the effects of diet than others, but most people are affected to some degree. One person can eat large amounts of animal fat, and the total cholesterol level does not rise above desirable levels. Another person can follow a strict low-fat diet, and the total cholesterol does not fall below a high level. This difference seems to be mostly genetically determined. A person's genetic makeup influences the rate at which the body makes, uses, and disposes of these fats. Also, body type does not always predict levels of cholesterol. Some overweight people have low cholesterol levels, and some thin people have high levels."

                    Hard to comment on the quality of life in the post-life sphere, everyone will have to see if there is a truly virtual Chowhound. And jfood used to be a student at a college (never bought into pedantic versus puerile theory) and always enjoyed the reparte (accent egu) with his professors. :-))

                    1. re: jfood

                      So very nicely stated, jfood. Thank you kindly--and especially on behalf of those of us who fit the profile of your last quoted paragraph, we appreciate the time you took to share that info. Have a great weekend!

                      1. re: jfood

                        Jfood - if you're using Windows there's an easy shortcut for accented characters. For the e with accent aigu, hold down the ALT key and press 0-2-3-3 on the number keypad, then release the ALT key. Voila! Nearly all international accented characters are available using similar ALT codes. If you're interested I can post more. In fact, I think I'll start a thread in Not About Food on the subject!

            4. I've never believed that taking a drug in order to be able to eat certain foods is a good idea. I'm willing to relegate red meat and dairy to the "seldom eaten" segment of my diet -- there's lots of good chow out there that is not a challenge to my health. I prefer to not take any drug whose long-term consequences are not known. Through diet and exercise, I've kept my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers very low.

              I realize that for a small percentage of folks, this is not possible, and drugs are called for. That said, I think that if you're taking statins in order to be able to eat red meat every night of the week, you're nuts.

              1. I take crestor everyday. Works great. However I do try to limit myself, I order non-fat milk drinks, limit myself somewhat with cheese, limit somewhat red meat and pretty much don't endulge in ice cream.

                I am running in the 170's, the stuff does work.

                When bbq season and outdoor grilling starts up again I will eat what I cook.

                1. I was put on Crestor three months ago. I did make changes in my diet when I found out how bad my high and low cholesterol were. I eat out less often and am choosing more "whole foods" including more whole grains, lean meats, fruits, vegetables and nuts as snacks instead of the processed foods. I'm also working on smaller portions and exercising. Medication does not mean I get a free pass on foods; it means I need to reevaluate my diet , my lifestyle and my health in general. I do not want to stay on Crestor for the rest of my life, but would like to manage my cholesterol in a more natural method in the future. I also have a problem with getting my husband on the bandwagon, we both slip occasionally but he seems more prone.